We are sure you heard a lot about Athens, the Greek capital and the home of democracy. You know about Greek gods and place of worship – the famous temple of Parthenon but there is much more to see in Athens. Athens has some really charming neighborhoods that you will love and historical places that you will admire. After reading about 10 amazing places to enjoy in Athens you will pack your bags immediately and go seek them yourself.
So let’s get started, we are sure you’re already excited about Athens.
See the Center of Ancient Athens
Ancient Agora (Agora – central gathering place) of Athens or Forum of Athens is one of those places that you just can’t miss when visiting a new city. This historical place used to be the central marketplace but also a place where Socrates and Plato were gathering to debate ideas and civic actions, so it served as a public speaking spot, too. It is amazing knowing that you are standing at a place where Greek philosophers were standing and debating about democracy.
© DerHexer/ CC BY-SA 3.0
Anafiotika – the Hidden Gem of Athens
Anafiotika is a gem hidden among the streets of the Plaka neighborhood, the oldest and most historical part of Athens. It is the most picturesque part of Athens where you will find traditional products and restaurants. This charming neighborhood’s streets are narrow and full of bougainvillaea trees and surprising urban art. And you will notice that its main residents are cats. If you love to get away from hustle and bustle of the city start looking for Anafiotika in Plaka – it is well hidden.
© Palickap/ CC BY-SA 4.0
The Acropolis – City on a Hill
While you are at Anafiotika take the path up to the Acropolis – the symbol of Greek civilization. Tourists often mix the Acropolis and the Parthenon, so let’s clear this up: Acropolis is the hill where Parthenon, the temple dedicated to the goddess Athena sits upon, as well as the Odeon Herodes Atticus, Propylaea, and Erectheion, all parts of the Acropolis complex. Acropolis dates from the 5th century and it is built to have a better view of invaders. It is the main and the most known symbol of Athens and if you didn’t climb up this hill it is almost like you’ve never been to Athens.
See and Listen at Odeon of Herodes Atticus
Herodeon, as the locals call it, is a stunning open-air theatre raised in 161 AD by wealthy benefactor Herodes Atticus, as an ode to his late wife. This amphitheater is initially built for musical performances and many famous artists performed here, such as Frank Sinatra, Luciano Pavarotti, Elton John, Plácido Domingo, José Carreras, Montserrat Caballé, Paco de Lucía, Diana Ross, Liza Minnelli, Goran Bregovic, and many others. This amphitheater with perfect acoustics is really a must-see and an experience you will never forget.
© Sharon Mollerus/ CC BY-SA 2.0
Visit the Acropolis Museum
Now that you’ve explored the hill, get down to the foothill, and visit the Acropolis Museum. One of the most important museums in the world hosts an extremely valuable collection of ancient Greek art and artifacts found in and around the Acropolis. Take your time and explore it well, don’t miss any important parts. Start from the highest level, the Parthenon Gallery, and make your way down. You will have the chance to discover how the Parthenon looked to ancient Greeks and, on the lower ground, how an ancient neighborhood excavated just below the museum once was.
Explore Monastiraki and Its Flea Market
Monastiraki is also an old charming neighborhood like Plaka is. If you need some souvenirs to bring back home (and you do, of course) Monastiraki’s flea market is the place to seek those. You can find all kinds of stuff here, cheap and less cheap, if you explore it well enough you will even find some great shops with handmade products. One of those shops is a famous poet shoemaker’s workshop, named Melissinos Art where you can have sandals tailormade just for you. Monastiraki is a funky neighborhood with a really interesting and unique vibe and attractive youthful energy. So check it out, explore and have fun.
Guards of Syntagma Square
Visiting the Syntagma Square will lead you to the Hellenic Parliament and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier – a memorial raised for the anonymous soldiers who died for the country. This memorial is protected 24/7 by the Evzone guards and they are actually what you want to see while you are at the square. Every hour they are changing places, after standing completely still and expressionless for 60 minutes. Their movement is a show worth watching, as their slow-motion steps synchronize perfectly, and their timing is spectacular. Their uniforms are very interesting and humorous, as some would say.
We did an interview with one of the guards, so if you’d like to learn everything you wanted to know about Evzones, check it out!
Greek history at the Benaki Museum
If you really want to get to know the city you are visiting, you have to visit a museum. A great one is the Benaki Museum, with an amazing collection that sheds light on years of Greek history, culture, and art, from antiquity to the Byzantine period, to modern times. The museum is housed at the original Benaki Family mansion and you can even check out some of the amazing reconstructed reception rooms from the 18th century.
© Jean-Pierre Dalbéra/ CC BY-SA 2.0
Hike Up the Lycabettus Hill
Now that you’ve experienced some of the important Athens’ landmarks from the ground you’d probably like to see them from another perspective. Take a walk, climb up the Lycabettus Hill, that hill in the middle of the city, and enjoy the views of Athens. You will especially love it in the sunset. Don’t forget to take awesome panoramic photos of beautiful Athens.
Enjoy Athenian Life in Plaka
Besides seeing all the landmarks, you probably want to experience the city like a local. Remember Plaka we mentioned earlier? Go back there and explore the streets, even more, find hidden ruins and amazing Byzantine temple. Find a nice restaurant and enjoy a nice dinner and drinks with your travel buddy and some locals. Try ouzo, a traditional Greek alcohol beverage but don’t have too many shots 😊
So, now that you have the more complete image of Athens, you can start googling travel agencies that can take you there. But we’re sure you need a media travel guide to get you to those 10 amazing places to enjoy in Athens. Visit our Cultural Places platform and you will find our audio-guided tour through Athens and enjoy this beautiful city with a remarkable history.